Oh hey, Wah.works
Posted on 23 August 2017
If you've been following our Instagram stories you'll know that our recently opened South Melbourne store stocks a handful of wares made by other Australian small businesses that we've taken quite a liking to! The products we've selected had to pass the 'aesthetics + ethics' test, meaning they had to look beautiful and match Theo's (lack of) colour way as well as being produced in small batches by a specific maker. One such business is wah.works!
wah.works (pronounced in the founder's own words as if you are 'having a whinge or pretending to be a baby crying', both of which escape my lips more than I would like to admit...) is a one lady show run by Polly Shanahan in Belgrave, Victoria. It's not literally a show, it's a small business where Polly creates serving ware such as bowls and boards from either reclaimed or sustainable timber (tick and tick). Reclaimed sources include remnants from hardwood kitchen benches and old fence posts which are then given new life with the skills Polly learnt from her handyman father.
(Photo by Samara Clifford)
Polly helped answer a few serious (and a handful of ridiculous) questions about her life journey so far and how she came to be running her own woodworking business.
[In a nutshell] I grew up in the mountains with a small loving family. After school I bounced around from university course to university course, from country to country. I now find myself back in some mountains. Older, with a husband and a cat and learning some skills to do the things I love. [I'm] dreaming of building a house. I have always enjoyed making things. I ignored this for a very long time. It wasn't too long ago that I began to think I could make this my job. Now to make things all the time. It hasn't been easy and I have had a lot of support, but my gosh it feels good.
[On waking up at 4am. Wait, what?] I have trouble staying awake at night. If alone I am in bed by 6pm and awake before 4am. Four in the morning is a special time. No one else is there and it belongs just to you. Everyone should try it. I make a lot of noise in my workshop so I wait until about 9am to head down so the first few hours of the day are spent at the computer. Once in the workshop I spend the time working on either a commission or my own collection. Then before I know it it's time to make dinner.
(Photo by Samara Clifford)
[On my playlist are] Podcasts and audio books. Being alone all day in the workshop means I love to listen to people talk. I love learning about others lives and hearing people tell stories. I love that my work allows me to learn so much about other things.
[On my personal Instagram feed you would see] Cat, cat and more cat. Her name is Darwin. She is a pain in the bum but I love her so much.
Photo by Dani Knox
[On changing the world] Make small changes in your day to day life. Easy things like buying recycled toilet paper and ethical clothing that will last. The best way to change the world for the better is to make less of an impact on it.
Selected wah.works pieces are available at Theo's store (So:Me Space, South Melbourne Market, 322-326 Coventry Street, South Melbourne 3205) including reclaimed hardwood serving boards and reclaimed cypress turned bowls. Polly also makes commission pieces so get in touch with her (we promise she's lovely!) if you have an idea you'd like to bring to life.